A comprehensive bill to tackle increasing crimes committed by youngsters between 16-18 years of age like the Delhi gangrape case and to ensure proper care and protection of needy children, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, introduced by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, also proposes to repeal the law enacted in 2000 and provides for care and protection of children, their rehabilitation and offences committed against children, among other things.
The changes in the law come against the backdrop of outrage over the lighter punishment of three years in a reform home given to a minor convicted in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case.
Increasing cases of crimes committed by children aged 16-18 years in recent years makes it evident that the current provisions and system under the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 “are ill equipped to tackle child offenders in this age group,” the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said.
It also said that the data of the National Crime Records Bureau established that crimes by children in this age group have increased “especially in certain categories of heinous offences.”
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Numerous changes were required in the existing law to address this, it said and proposed to repeal the 2000 Act and re-enact a comprehensive legislation, which would also provide general principles of care and protection of children.
It also proposes to empower the Juvenile Justice Board to decide whether a juvenile above 16 years involved in heinous crimes such as rape is to be sent to a observation home or tried in a regular court.
However, according to the Bill, in no case the juvenile involved in a heinous crime would be sentenced to death or life imprisonment either when tried under the provisions of JJ Act or under the provisions of IPC.
The Bill also lays down procedures in case of children in need of care and protection, their rehabilitation and social re-integration measures, adoption of orphans, abandoned and surrendered children and offences committed against them.
It includes facilitating faster adoption of children and setting up foster care homes.